Sunday, September 7, 2008

What bees ask of us

This is Penny's honey. I order two 4 litre ice cream pails from her each spring. We go through a lot of honey in this house. One pound of honey equals 55,000 miles of work, so you can imagine how many miles of energy 4 litres equals. Penny's bees make glistening gold perfumed honey. A piece of buttered toast with a spoonful of honey drizzled atop is quite heavenly. So, too, a large dollop dropped into a cup of hot tea. Thank goodness we find bees fuzzy and cute, because how they actually make the honey...

Why are bees so fascinating? Sometimes I see that they spent the night sleeping on a flower instead of returning home to the hive. At this time of the year, bees especially love visiting (and sleeping on) the globe thistle, golden rod, purple coneflower and breakbone fever plants in my flower garden. I thought, why is "busy as a bee" such a popular expression, but not "drowsy as a bee"?

Bees bobbing in the wind in the center of the yellow flowers of the cup plant by the high bush cranberry. The cup plant is about 8' tall. It is called a cup plant because the leaves fit together in such a way at the stem to make a cup-like depression to catch rain and dew. Butterflies, bees and birds drink water from this "cup". Besides having once been a source of chewing gum, the cup plant also has medicinal and sacred qualities. In my yard it is just a decoration --and pollen haven, of course.

I'm not sure if bees tell each other about where to find water with a waggle dance like they do for flower information.

This bee was dreaming inside a hollyhock at Armi's on Warnicke Lake. Pollen was all over the petals. I think the bee was drunk on the scent of the flower and could no longer move.

Armi's hollyhocks, grown from seeds Urho brought back from Minnesota, compete with my cup plant for height and endurance against winds,

winds from across the lake in her case. The hollyhocks ring the erratic resting on Armi's front yard on the shore of Warnicke Lake. I went out last Saturday for -- you guessed it -- a sauna. The water was cold; I jumped off the dock with a bit of trepidation. But the sauna was hot.

The hollyhocks and mallows were covered in bees in all stages of delirium.

Some were upside down, dusted with yellow pollen, barely hanging on. Others were lolling on the bench outside the sauna, and one was almost comatose on the mat by the sauna door, so I pulled the mat to the side so no one would step on it.

A friend of our family, Laith, who was once a beekeeper, took some interesting photos of Yemeni bees and a Yemeni beekeeper when he went traveling through Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Yemen recently.

I think a lot of bees visit our yard because it is a chemical free sanctuary. Of course, that means there are a lot of dandelions in spring and early summer, which means there will be a lot of dandelions finding their way to my neighbours' yards.

"What bees ask of us is simple: a world free from poisons and other stressors, with places where they can nest and a sweet, season-long supply of flowering plants. In return, they offer to teach us their deepest lesson yet. Much as a honeybee belongs to her colony, so we humans belong to the living community of the Earth. The wild lies all around us, and we draw it in like breath. Our lives are indivisible from the lives of insects." Candace Savage. Bees: Nature's Little Wonders.


Bryon said...

You dont know me, but I came across your blog about a year ago and been frequenting it ever since. I live on the North shore of Lake Erie. I have been blogging for several years and wanted to link your site for my followers. I found your blog very interesting, educational, heartfelt and entertaining. If you object to being a link on my blog please let me know and I will remove. my blog is:

Anonymous said...

I feel an incredible amount of guilt when I eat honey. They work sooo hard and I can consume their entire lives work in a matter of hours!!

Not that it stopped me from using honey when I made granola last night.

northshorewoman said...

thank you, checkeredlounge pants, for your kind words. I started this blog because I needed to remind myself to see the beauty in the mundane. I am fine with being a link on your blog. You are interested in social justice, too. We find ourselves in all sorts of places on the web -- my cousin in Finland found my name posted on a list of terrorist lovers (actually, I believe the word used was 'raghead'). So once on the web, who knows where you end up?

Afrodescendiente, you have a good sense of humour in your self-reflexivity of complicity!